Monday, May 16, 2022

✱✱Audio Book Review✱✱ Midnight Labyrinth by Elizabeth Hunter

 

Midnight Labyrinth: An Elemental Legacy Novel
By: Elizabeth Hunter
Narrated by: Sean William Doyle
Series: Elemental Legacy, Book 1

He's one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood. In other words, it's just another night.

Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world's most feared vampire assassins. He's traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.

But everyone has to go home sometime.

New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.

Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can't deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn't hers.

But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.

Midnight Labyrinth is the first book in an all new contemporary fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles.

Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don't know how I've missed Elizabeth Hunter up to this point, but after listening to Midnight Labyrinth, she's firmly on my radar. I like urban fantasy, but I'm kind of picky about it. A good pace and lack of info dumps are musts for me, and I don't care to admit that when I saw how long this book is, I was a little worried. I mean, this book is almost 400 pages or around 10 hours listening time. That's a pretty big investment by today's standards, especially with people being in such a hurry for everything, but Tenzin and Ben kept my interest all the way through. This is a great choice for settling in and getting lost in Hunter's world. Whether it's broken up into several evenings or listened to long into the night like I did, it's a totally engaging read. Sean William Doyle gives voice to these characters, and he captures the excitement, the danger, the relationships between characters... Well, suffice it to say I enjoyed Doyle's narration as much as I enjoyed the storyline. This may have been my first experience with this author and the book's narrator, but I'll definitely be looking for more of both. 


✱✱Audio Book Review✱✱ Second Shot with #76 by Piper Rayne

 

Second Shot with #76
Hockey Hotties, Book 5
By: Piper Rayne
Narrated by: Vanessa Edwin, Chance Smolders
Publisher: Piper Rayne Inc.

My mom always said you don’t get a second shot at making a first impression. I’ve remembered that my entire career. Especially since I’m one of the few Black men who play professional hockey.

I’m calculated and respectful in the way I speak to my coaches, the owners, and the media. I’ve never taken a risk...until her.

I could blame it on the fact that for once I pushed away the pressure of my career for the ocean waves, the sand, and good times with my new teammates. But those are excuses because the minute I saw her at the airport, something lit up inside me and the best week of my life was spent with her in my bed.

After our week in paradise, we said good-bye, exchanged phone numbers, and both assumed that unless one of us was flying through the other’s city on the opposite side of the country, our vacation fling was over.

Then one night after practice I see her. She’s here. In my city. Telling me she moved here for a job. If that’s not fate, tell me what is.

I’ve never wanted a second shot more than I do this time, but she’s determined to leave what we were on the island we left behind.


Momma Says: 3 stars⭐⭐⭐

Second Shot with #76 is an entertaining second chance romance, maybe a little angstier (umm... more angst? Whichever) than what I've read by Piper Rayne, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of angst. There were a couple of things I wasn't crazy about in this one, particularly the plot twist. I saw it coming, but I don't care to admit that I really hoped to be wrong. It's just a plot device that I'm not fond of. I did like the way the relationship between Cory and Ande progresses from the time they run into each other to the above-mentioned plot twist. It has a slow burn feel to it that works well for these characters, but even with the slow burn, Cory and Ande drove me a little crazy with the things they didn't say, and I really wanted to shake one or both of them several times throughout the book. I also enjoyed the many secondary characters. While I have read Piper Rayne before, this is the first in this series, so these characters were all new to me. I'm sure there are many things I've missed about the various relationships, but enough information is included so that I got the gist of who's with who and the dynamic between the team and the significant others. Speaking of, after some things that happened in this book, I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
Both narrators on this one were new to me, and again, some things worked and some, well, not so much. Vanessa Edwin was a solid choice for Ande, and she brings out the angst and emotion very well. Chance Smolders has a great voice, but his narration fell short for me. It just didn't feel natural, and it was hard to stay immersed in the book during his chapters.
I think it comes down to a mixture of a couple of things that didn't personally work for me. The plot twist coupled with part of the narration kept this one from being quite what I expected from Piper Rayne. It's not bad, by any means. The pacing and writing style are everything they should be, so I will continue to read and listen to this duo's books. All things considered, I'd have to say this one landed right smack in the middle for me. 


The Power of Wellbeing Blitz

 

A blueprint for rebuilding the social fabric and reimagining an inclusive society


Nonfiction

Date Published: November 15, 2021

Publisher: Cogent Publishing


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A timely reminder of our shared humanity and the fragile social contract that binds us together.

This book is also about taking a deep breath and reassessing our institutions, systems, and values and re-purposing them in an uncertain post-pandemic world. It is about engineering positive change to achieve a better world—“for the people”—where most of the population can thrive and prosper, while building and maintaining the core values of equality, trust, and empathy. I hope to show how a shift in perspective that has blossomed in our small island nation might be the catalyst for far more sweeping change in bigger countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. I hope that it will help awaken the world to the fragility of our shared humanity at what may well prove to be a unique time in history.

 

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Think People Think Blitz

 

Nonfiction / Current Events

Date Published: October 7, 2021

Publisher: Xlibris


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75 pages of a 91-year-old man looking at some major world problems today.


Emphasis on wars/death, money (it is not where it is needed), honesty (can it make a come-back? what form of Government is right for us? Computer malware is taking a large toll on normal life. AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be expected to replace humans in almost every aspect of life, including running the Government.


About the Author

This is the author's eight and final book (he is 91 years old).

In his work life he was an avionics engineer.

He served in the Army for 4 years (NIKE missile instructor)

His other (current) books are:

The Elevator (2017) - a trip into modern Hell (update of Dante's "Inferno")

Constitution 20XX (2013 - children learn to live together

Constitution II - A New Beginning (2019) - actual words to use in a new Constitution

The Story of Pope Maria (2015) - emphasis on ecumenism

Doomed To Circle 9 (2017) - modern crime and punishment

Why Is A Cow? (2016-Childrens book )

How To Become A Living Saint (2021)


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From Brick & Darkness Blitz

 

Young Adult - Contemporary Fantasy

Date Published: 05-16-2022

Publisher: Wild Rose Press


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Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts.

The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn't what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.


About the Author

J. L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the fantastical tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. In high school, he wrote for a local newspaper before venturing into creative writing. He currently lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.


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Sunday, May 15, 2022

✱✱Audio Book Review✱✱ Ember by Chelle Bliss

 


Ember
Men of Inked: Heatwave, Book 7
By: Chelle Bliss
Narrated by: Samantha Brentmoor & Connor Crais
Publisher: Bliss Ink LLC

Rocco Caldo is tall, dark, and handsome, but not interested in love. Loyal to a fault, he can’t turn away an old friend in need or a beautiful woman on the run...especially when they have unfinished business.

Rebel Bishop is a single mom looking for shelter, not a handout. But when her path crosses with an old flame, they uncover an ember of passion that’s been smoldering inside them both for over a decade.

Can they move beyond their tragic past, allowing the flame to burn bright into their future?

Ember is the seventh full-length stand-alone novel in the Men of Inked Heatwave series by USA Today best-selling author Chelle Bliss.


Momma Says: 5 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

First, if you've never read or listened to a Chelle Bliss book, you need to! I'm fairly new to her books, but I'm loving every book. Including Ember. This second chance romance is so perfectly named. Things get dark and circumstances come between Rocco and Rebel, but the flame doesn't go completely out, even ten years later.
Rebel is a strong woman, determined to make it on her own, but the Caldo brothers don't give her much choice other than to let them help her. The chemistry between her and Rocco is off the charts, and these two really bring the heat. And Rocco - Well, Rocco is one of those completely swoony alpha males that you're not likely to forget, one that easily lands in the top ten book boyfriend list. Add in how thoroughly Rebel's very precocious five-year-old has him wrapped around her finger, and he's that much sweeter. We also get plenty of page time with Rocco's larger-than-life family, including some past favorites. 
Samantha Brentmoor and Connor Crais voice these characters, and Chelle Bliss couldn't have chosen any better for Rocco and Rebel. The narration captures the emotion of the story perfectly. Whether it's danger or love or swoony heat, it all comes through loud and clear. I've listened to both of these narrators before, so I expected good things from them, and boy, did they deliver.
Finally, and this probably should've been first because it's the first thing you see, but can we take a second for some cover love? That's one hot cover for an equally hot leading man. 


The Business Beast Blitz

 

Unleash Four Primal Instincts to Silence Your Inner Bitch, Lead Your Tribe, and Hunt Down Success


Nonfiction / Self-Help

Date Published: March 26, 2022

 

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Silence Your Inner Bitch and Let the Reign of the Beast Begin!

Does the voice in your head fill you with doubt? Are you working harder but accomplishing less? Is your team a rusty wreck instead of a well-oiled machine? Are your goals receding instead of getting closer? Are you haunted by past failures? Does the life you’ve always hoped to live still elude you?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it’s time to unleash the Beast. In The Business Beast, Brian Dyer leads you down a fulfilling—but sometimes dark and lonely—path. Entering the wild is dangerous, but it offers rewards you can only begin to imagine, and you’ll be in good hands as Brian guides you through the four primal instincts of the Business Beast:


1. Dilate your eyes like the great horned owl: See what others do not and prioritize what truly matters.

2. Rule your kingdom like the lion: Own and lead your tribe.

3. Enter attack mode like the cheetah: Strike quickly, effortlessly, and efficiently at the right moment.

4. Hunt undaunted like the honey badger: Develop a callused mind, dismiss failure, push past pain, and relentlessly pursue success.


Merge these four instincts, and nothing will stop you.

 

WARNING: This book is not for everyone. If you don’t want to do the work, if you’re happily winding down your career, or if you’re easily satisfied by mediocrity, stop reading now. If you value self-esteem more than self-awareness or self-respect, or if you value the amount of paid time off you receive from your employer, this book is not for you.

If you’re working hard to live a life of success and fulfillment but find yourself falling short of your goals, The Business Beast is the answer. Brian Dyer is in the trenches, viewing, leading, calculating, attacking, and building some of America’s most successful companies. He knows exactly what it takes to become a Beast because he’s done it, he’s doing it now, and if you follow his advice and put it to work, you can be a Business Beast too. And once you’ve lived the life of a Beast you will never go back.

If you’re ready to do what real beasts do, let’s go to work!


Purchase Link

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✱✱Audio Book Review✱✱ Midnight Labyrinth by Elizabeth Hunter

  Midnight Labyrinth: An Elemental Legacy Novel By: Elizabeth Hunter Narrated by: Sean William Doyle Series: Elemental Legacy, Book 1 He'...